24 April 2018

Caruana's Rise to GM

I ended last week's post, Caruana's TWIC Debut, with:-

Two recurring events would prove to be important to Caruana's evolution as a chess player: the First Saturday tournaments in Budapest and the New York Masters.

Taking the New York Masters (newyorkmasters.com) first, after the initial TWIC report (59th New York Masters; 9 June 2003), there were 23 further TWIC reports mentioning Caruana in the event. They covered the 81st edition (11 November 2003) listing Caruana as an FM rated 2137, through the 122nd edition (19 October 2004), where the young star, now rated 2196, drew with GM Gata Kamsky, rated 2717. The official site mentions an even earlier event, the 36th edition (3 December 2002), where Caruana was an FM rated 2125.

As for the First Saturday events, after the February 2003 edition the next TWIC report was the June 2004 edition, where Caruana (rated 2140) finished the category 2 'IM' event with +4-4=2 for a 2304 performance. TWIC reported Caruana's participation in ten more of the Budapest events. Worth special mention is The Week in Chess 589 (20 February 2006):-

5) First Saturday February • The First Saturday tournaments for February 2006 start saw a GM and two IM groups along with lesser events starting February 4th. [...] Note that Fabiano Caruana is now Italian, not US as given last week.

The change of federation made him a European. Playing the February event in the GM section (apparently for the first time) as an FM rated 2409, he scored +5-5=2. The next three TWIC reports on Caruana in First Saturday events show him gaining his first, second, and third GM norms.

From Mr ‘First Saturday’ – Laszlo Nagy in Budapest (chessbase.com; February 2010):-

One day I saw [Laszlo Nagy] walking crestfallen in the corridors of the playing venue. He revealed to me what troubled him: GM Fabiano Caruana who has achieved most of his norms and titles playing at the First Saturday has related to Laszlo that a journalist in the USA teased him that First Saturday is a 'factory for norms', implying norms are easily or dishonestly achieved. I seemed to have managed to console him by pointing out that this journalist has picked on a particularly wrong target: Caruana had just made his impressive debut at Wijk aan Zee -- does that make this highly respected event also ‘a factory for norms’? Young Caruana has proved his talent time and again and paving his way through the First Saturday he reached many super tournaments up to the latest World Cup.

Fabiano Caruana at his first 1st Sat tournament in June 2004 [NB: what about the February 2003 event?] where he started as an 11-year-old FM rated 2140. At the time he was still playing under the USA flag, in the meantime, he had switched his allegiances and today plays for Italy. His current rating is 2675.

Fabiano and his family lived in Budapest for a number of years. Their main reason for settling temporarily in the Hungarian capital was his coach GM Alex Chernin who is a Budapest resident. But he combined his training sessions with playing, almost monthly, at the First Saturday, where by the following year, in May 2005 [TWIC 550], he achieved his first IM norm with 7.5/10 and a 2470 performance. His final GM norm came in the July 2007 First Saturday tournament.

From Fabiano Caruana Earns 3rd GM Norm (uschess.org; July 2007):-

Fabiano Caruana just earned his third GM norm in July's first Saturday tournament in Budapest. He also earned his first two norms in the March and April editions of the famous First Saturday tournaments, held in downtown Budapest. Fabiano has dual American-Italian citizenship and a FIDE rating of 2549. At 14 years old, he is set to beat Hikaru Nakamura's record as the youngest American GM ever!

The GM title helped Caruana gain invitations to the next level of tournaments. In January 2008, he would play in Wijk aan Zee (Corus 'C') for the first time.

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